Advantages and disadvantages of online counselling

Advantages and disadvantages of online counselling

Possible advantages of Online Counselling

  • There are circumstances which make it difficult for you to attend the counselling service in person
  • You are away from the University (but within the UK) on a work or training placement
  • There are reasons which mean you might prefer to use text based communication
  • You have difficulty accessing the service in person as you live far away, or experience transport problems
  • You are reluctant to attend face-to-face counselling because you perceive that it is easier to keep online counselling private and confidential
  • You find meeting face to face stressful
  • You are a parent and are unable to find enough suitable childcare
  • You feel more at ease with the written word
  • You may find the process of writing down the things that are on your mind very helpful in itself, and the act of sharing can provide some relief
  • You may find that putting your thoughts, feelings and concerns down in writing can begin to give you insight into what is happening in your life
  • You may find that writing in comfortable/familiar surroundings reduces your inhibitions, allowing you to be more open than you might be face-to-face

Additional advantages for email counselling

  • You can read and write emails at a time to suit you
  • You can take as much time as you like to get your thoughts and feelings down in writing
  • You can attach artwork which may reflect your current thoughts/feelings
  • You can refer back to past transcripts and feel ‘held’ outside of the sessions

Disadvantages of ‘real time’ and ‘email’ counselling

Online counselling is not suitable:

  • If you are in crisis/have an emergency, or are feeling suicidal
  • If you experience severe or long-term mental health problems
  • If you are experiencing isolation from face to face contact with others
  • If you are out of the country for a period of time.
  • If you engage in potentially risky behaviour, e.g. heavy alcohol or drug use
  • You will need to take more responsibility for your online confidentiality
  • You may find that working without verbal and visual interaction feels strange
  • Sometimes technology breaks down, which can be frustrating
  • There is more opportunity for misunderstandings to occur online
  • You need to have a certain level of competence with technology as well as confidence communicating using the written word
  • You may experience additional difficulties if English is not your first language
  • For technical reasons you could experience a delay in response which can leave you wondering what is going on.

Please note: Supporting evidence for students claiming extenuating circumstances is not available to ‘email’ clients.  Supporting evidence for students undergoing online ‘real time’ counselling and wishing to claim extenuating circumstances is, as with face to face clients, at the discretion of your counsellor.